Book of the Week #37 - Alright Alright Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater's Dazed & Confused
Greetings, readers! My name is Sareeta Domingo, and I’m an author and fiction editor. It’s my great pleasure to be bringing you a Book of the Week, each week here on Morning Mari.
As a teenager, movies were definitely a way for me to escape into worlds outside my own—but there was one film that somehow felt like a perfect embodiment of the feeling of being in those formative years on the cusp of adulthood. Richard Linklater’s classic Dazed & Confused, released in 1993 but set on the last day of high school in a Texas town in 1976 shouldn’t have felt like it had anything in common with my own teenage-hood growing up as an expat in the Middle East decades after the time period of the film. And yet, the feeling it evoked—the excitement and possibility of being that age, the heightened sense of wanting to belong, the importance of music and freedom—are all beautifully captured in the movie.
So my Book of the Week this week is Melissa Maerz’s book, Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. It delves, in admirable detail, into the behind-the-scenes creation of the movie. The book was for me a hugely welcome reminder of just how much Dazed & Confused meant to me as a film. Maerz had crafted a painstaking oral history of the making of the film, tracking down hundreds of the actors, producers, hangers-on and inspirations behind Linklater’s sophomore film.
It’s a truly engrossing exploration both of the process of making a film like this, as well as the unique experience so many of those who participated had. Linklater went from an indie upstart to creating a film within the studio system that still somehow hung onto the sensibilities he’d come up on. Many of the cast, like Ben Affleck and Matthew McConnaughey, whose iconic greeting forms the book’s title, went on to become big stars. But it’s striking how much Maerz’s book, crafted into an oral history through interspersed interviews, exposes that it wasn’t just on screen that a feeling of being in a truly special time was captured. Behind the scenes, so many of the actors clearly still view the making of the film as a truly formative time for them personally too, even decades later.
The book is a fascinating account of filmmaking in the early nineties, as a unique insight into Linklater’s formative years, as well as a cleverly structured and diligently researched book, in which the author has utilised her passion for her subject to craft a compelling documentary on the page. I highly recommend it even if you’re not a superfan of the film. That’s why Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed & Confused is my Book of the Week this week!